I have a beautiful A303 in a 20 gauge that I love for grouse hunting, the best weight and balance of any 20 ga auto there is to date. I am looking at a 303 12ga special trap for sporting clays but I am concerned with the POI on this gun and the ability to adjust it much lower being a trap gun with a modified monte carlo stock. I know you shoot them, can you please provide a few thoughts on this? If I typically shoot a fairly deep drop on my guns maybe I should stick with the 391’s though I really would rather not, I do not need the flexibilty of light to heavy loads and I do not need the additional cleaning steps.
Yes, the 303 is easily one of the best Berettas ever made. It is much softer shooting than the new guns and very reliable if you keep a fresh mainspring in there every 5~10K rounds. I love my 303 trap and do use it for sporting.
If the Monte Carlo trap stock is too high for you when shooting sporting, you have some choices. The first would be to get a new stock. It just screws on easily. Go to Rich Cole at http://www.colegun.com.
The second choice, and what I did with mine, was to shim the stock down slightly. Most 303s didn’t come with shims, though some did. Mine didn’t so I made a shim by cutting a “U” shaped piece out of a plastic shotshell hull. I loosened the stock and inserted the shim on the top between the head of the receiver and the stock. It shimmed it down slightly, but enough for my purposes. You don’t want to shim it down too much as it will bend the tube containing the mainspring and slow down the action. But a little bit is fine.
If you want more down bend, the quick and dirty way to do it is to take some coarse sand paper, a sanding block and some ammo out to your local pattern plate. Paint it, stand back about 30 yards (a typical sporting clays target distance), aim at the center mark you put on the plate and fire. You can quickly see where your pattern impacts. Do this a few times so that you get an accurate reading. Do it premounted and also low gun is you shooting sporting that way.
If the gun actually does shoot high for you, start sanding the top of the comb to bring it down. Sand a little. Then test shoot. Sand some more. Test shoot some more. And again. And again.
Don’t sand off too much as you will wait around for ever waiting for that wood to grow back. Leave the gun stock a little high. Then, when you get home, smooth sand it and put a few coats of Tru-Oil on it. Now shoot it at sporting for a week or two to confirm that it is a little high. Then, if it is still shooting high, go back to the pattern plate and sand it down some more. Measure twice, cut once, that sort of thing. Just go slowly.
This is time consuming, but it will ensure that your stock will be a perfect custom fit for you. And that stock will be attached to a real 303, a great gun.
I’ve had 391s and liked them. They were reliable, but harder kicking than the 303. I ended up selling my 391, but I kept the 303. I won’t sell that one.
Shotgun Report’s Technoid